Joseph Livesey — gentleman farmer

Joseph Livesey
Joseph Livesey

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Joseph Livesey’s Autobiography
Joseph Livesey’s Lakeland Retreat
A Livesey family suicide

Temperance campaigner Joseph Livesey is variously described as cheese merchant, printer, publisher and newspaper proprietor, but I have not found a single reference in the literature to his time as a farmer. Yet, for some 20 years his home was a farm at Holme Slack. At the 1841 census he was listed as ‘Cheese Factor, Printer & Farmer’ and in the 1851 Mannex Directory for Preston [1] he is listed as a gentleman living at Holme Slack. So, a fuller description of Livesey’s occupations would include gentleman farmer..

He seems to have moved to Holme Slack sometime after 1835, at which time according to the electoral register he was living over the family cheese shop in Church Street [2], and before 1840 when he appears in the Preston tithe schedule renting a 19-acre farm from a Hannah Carr. Livesey’s Moor House farm is shaded green on the plan below and on the modern map.

Moor House at Holme Slack, Preston, the home of Joseph Livesey.
Moor House at Holme Slack, Preston, the home of Joseph Livesey. The Livesey fields shaded green are based on the Preston tithe map, the base map is the first edition six-inch OS map of Preston (courtesy of the National Library of Scotland).
Moor House farm, Holme Slack, Preston,  superimposed on the modern Open Streets map
The Moor House farm superimposed on a modern map (© OpenStreetMap contributors)

A brief description of the farmhouse is contained in a small letting advertisement on page eight of the Preston Chronicle 9 July 1892:

His household at Moor House can be seen in the 1841 census return (HO107/499/18 p15). Livesey is listed with five of his children and three servants. His wife Jane is not listed and I have not been able to locate her in the census:

The Livesey household listed in the 1841 census
The Livesey household listed in the 1841 census

This is Livesey’s description of his home at Holme Slack from Chapter Five of his autobiography:

At a little farm we occupied, at Holme Slack, I spent a deal of money in ridding up hedges, draining, planting shrubs, and re-modelling the gardens, and we were often complimented by visitors for the nice order in which everything was kept. This place was to me a most pleasant retreat, especially in the evenings on returning from the town, weary with the toils of business, or distracted with the turmoil of some conflict on public affairs. Oh how I did enjoy the tranquillity of those delightful walks, and the perfumes of those ever enchanting flowers! I felt a sense of repose as I opened the gate, and the quiet of walking under those shady trees, how it seemed to obliterate the recollection of crowded streets and long chimneys. For about 20 years we remained there, and long before the end of that period I beheld the ivy covering the walls to the eaves, which I had planted with my own hand. There were also the fine Portugal laurels, the tall Irish yew, the holly bush, the acuba, with a variety of roses, forming a pleasant avenue, and rendered ten-fold more interesting from the recollection that all these were put down tiny plants by myself at moments stolen from the calls of business. It was some time before we erected a dwelling of our own at Windermere, and there I have had the credit of good taste and a love of order in laying out the grounds with shrubs and flowers.

The reference to his Windermere dwelling is somewhat misleading in that it suggests that he established himself in Windermere after his time at Holme Slack. In fact, he had built his large house at Bowness by 1851, as the census return shows (see Livesey’s Lakeland Retreat); in the same year he was giving his address in the Mannex directory as Holme Slack.


[1] Mannex and Co, A History, Topography, and Directory of Westmorland and the Hundreds of Lonsdale and Amounderness in Lancashire, reprint of 1851 edition (Whitehaven: Michael Moon, 1978), 669. Barney Smith, curator of the Preston Digital Archive, has put this directory on line, along with several other Preston directories, at the Preston Past and Present Facebook group

[2] Lancashire Northern Division Electoral Register (Preston: Addison, 1835), 31, .

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